Monday, May 14, 2007

The Madness of Magazines

The latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens was popped into my mailbox this morning. I pulled off the covering and riffled through the contents.
SUV ads, teeth whiteners, antiperspirants to inhibit at least one natural excretion mechanism, followed by an ad on how to 'Treat your chronic constipation' followed by 3 pages of fine print that ought to confer on you a Ph.D. in pharmacology, ads for cat chow ( not melamine-laced, we hope!), picture perfect Jambalaya rice (Was that real veggies and sausage, or plastic imitations designed to stay put until the 5 hours of food photos were done?), sleep aid pills which apparently come with eye-shades to guarantee a good night's sleep, five reminder cards for extending your 50-cent a month subscription, $25 dollar discount off clothing purchase at the retailer with overpriced clothes likely made with 'slave' labor (Brings back warm and fuzzy memories of the time I walked into the store with some (equally brown)friends, and was tagged by the employees till we walked out, visible looks of relief on their faces when we left!)...every item I looked at, just flipping through, set off this string of curmudgeonly thoughts, compressed into a total of 5 minutes.
Shut the magazine, and try again, this time with a decently brewed strong cup of Masala chai in hand. Remember to breathe deeply, start from the last page, for it lends itself to glancing at the left hand pages where the actual articles are positioned. Shiny, impossibly clean and uncluttered homes, tasteful pastels, dramatic red accents, smiling blow-dried home-owners and their adorable kids, with faces tastefully blurred for anonymity.
Ooh, pretty lilies and tulips (collection sold for $69.95 + shipping and handling and sales tax). No thanks, I can get equally gorgeous results from my dollar store gladioli and discount bulb bags at the local big box Home store.
'Living Green' is the Next Big Thing, according to the magazine gurus. So along with exhortations to 'sustain natural resources, reduce waste, minimize toxins and save energy', we get the 'wink-wink' attitude of 'We don't really expect you to sacrifice or make big changes, just baby steps... like buying our mesh tote bags to replace the wasteful shopping plastic bags, replacing your old fridge with a brand new Energy saver version, replace your window panes with the latest glitzy triple-pane innovations which cost about $400 each, switch to low flow toilets despite adding a brand new bathroom with a jacuzzi...Ok, I guess those weren't baby steps after all. Plus, as an added concession to living up your greenness, you can splurge without a twinge of conscience on the 'White cotton cardigan by Silly, $219, select Fifth Ave stores', made of 'ecologically sustainable organic cultivation techniques that help decrease global warming'- Alright, I admit that I made that last line up, but it's the kind of drivel that has become increasingly popular in the last year or so. Al Gore, you know not what you hath wrought!
For my part, I will do my best to help, by discontinuing my subscriptions to these mindless merchandising catalogs with thin veneers of infotainment. Perchance to save a tree or two...

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